March 11, 2013 / 5:06 PM / 7 years ago

White House rejects Karzai's charge of collusion

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai speaks during the opening ceremony of the third year of the Afghanistan parliament in Kabul in this March 6, 2013, file photo. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/Files

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s spokesman rejected charges by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on Monday that the United States has been colluding with the Taliban to prolong the U.S. military presence there.

Karzai disrupted a weekend trip to Afghanistan by new U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel by charging the United States and the Taliban were colluding to convince Afghans that foreign forces were needed beyond 2014, when NATO is set to wrap up its combat mission and have most troops withdraw.

“Any suggestion that the United States is colluding with the Taliban is categorically false,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “Secretary Hagel addressed these questions directly with President Karzai in their meeting. The United States has spent enormous blood and treasure for the last 12 years supporting the Afghan people in the effort to ensure security and stability in that country.

“The last thing we would do is support any kind of violence particularly involving innocent civilians,” Carney said.

Reporting By Steve Holland

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